Smarter Recruiting Equals Happier Employees

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Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Employee engagement needs to start before employees are hired

Evaluating employee performance and assessing HR programs are important steps in the talent management lifecycle, and ultimately in ensuring a positive customer experience. But so is engaging with employees prior to them joining the company. Gary Ellis, vice president of human resources at Fox Filmed Entertainment (the home of 20th Century Fox Studios and 20th Century Fox Television), says the company now uses an onboarding strategy to communicate with new hires during what had been a quiet period from the time Fox makes an offer until an employee's start date.

The company uses an online tool from Enwisen that candidates visit before their hire dates to get them excited about the company and to educate them about benefits and upcoming studio events. The website also provides new-hire forms, which are automatically transferred to payroll and HR. Ellis says that now an employee's first day of employment becomes a celebration rather than a procedure. "The more we can touch our employees at the beginning of employment, the higher rate of engagement we get early on," Ellis says.

So far the company is getting "rave reviews" about its onboarding experience from payroll and the hiring managers, Ellis says. In addition, retention has increased and there's a higher level of satisfaction among new hires. "They can be more productive to the company faster than they were before," he adds. Fox is now looking at ways to further improve the onboarding experience by introducing a mentor program.

Mortgage company Residential Finance Corp. takes a more unconventional approach to hiring employees: It hires people with little to no mortgage experience. Instead, the company looks for people with "good moral character," says Michael Isaacs, president and CEO.

According to Isaacs, it take a great deal of up front work to determine a person's attributes, including administering a battery of tests like personality profiles. If a candidate passes the tests and then the initial interview process, which Isaacs describes as rigorous, he is introduced to the sales team for a group interview. If the group likes the candidate, he spends three hours on the sales floor to determine whether the job is right for him. If the candidate passes the sales floor assessment, in many cases the hiring manager conducts an informal lunch or dinner interview that includes the spouse. "I can't tell you how many people we hired who were excited, but didn't include their spouse in the decision-making process.... This makes for an easier transition," Isaacs says.

Insurance company Esurance's onboarding approach starts even earlier in the hiring process-relying less on the r?m?received, and instead actively focusing on finding the most qualified candidates before they even apply. Sandy Hynes, vice president of HR at Esurance, says that during the company's high growth period a few years ago, Esurance became undisciplined with its hiring process and it showed in turnover rates. "Our recruiting strategy is about quality," Hynes says. "Unfortunately, we compromised on that."

Now Esurance uses a system from ICIMS that allows it to pull from a broader pool of applicants. For example, if Esurance needs to fill an actuary position, the hiring manager can easily access information on and contact an applicant who visited the company's job board nine months ago.

Analytics help to determine the sources of candidates that deliver employees with the highest performance and lowest turnover. For example, Hynes has determined that referrals yield the best employees, and candidates who apply from newspaper ads have higher turnover than those who come from radio ads.

This deep analytics approach has helped Esurance cut turnover dramatically. Two years ago the contact center reported 40 percent turnover. Now it's less than half that. "I'd like to think some of the hiring practices we're employing in HR are making the difference," Hynes says. "Companies that aren't using data to do this are shooting in the dark."

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EXPERT OPINION